Amazing Kids

Amazing Kids

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Culture Shock

So how do you inspire kids? How do you get them to be creative? How do you motivate them to become more? Put a book in their hands they don't want to put down.

In the weeks that have passed since the first day of school this year, my fear of having an extended time dedicated to reading in class has been replaced with the regret of not having done it sooner for my students. My kids are devouring books. Beyond my wildest imagination. Then they are doing book talks on them, beginning to blog about them, and telling their friends about them.

There are many days I feel as though I'm not very clever and creative. I look at various websites with all the cute stuff kids can do in the classroom; see how the other teachers in my building have all these amazingly creative activities for their kids hanging from the ceilings and displayed in the halls, and I'm (frankly) intimidated. I have to fight the "keeping up with the Joneses" syndrome. I have to will myself to stop those thoughts and go put a protective plastic cover on a book jacket. And don't forget the sticker that indicates the genre and the stamp showing who donated it. 

The cute stuff really is fun AND educationally effective. I don't want to allude to anything otherwise. And I don't want to make my classroom all or nothing one way or the other. The point I'm trying to make (to myself) is that this new paradigm I've found is an amazing, eye-opening, life-changing way to reach every single student. It has me more excited about teaching than ever. And I was pretty excited already.

My kids are pretty well-versed on authors, genres, and characters. In fact, they sometimes like to argue about the genre of their book. They are stoked about skyping with an author tomorrow. They can hardly wait for their turn to work on their blog. On an almost daily basis at least one student will tell me she needs another "book sign-out" sheet because hers is full. That's never ever happened in my classroom before this year. It's a total shift in culture. It's nothing short of amazing.

My kids want to read their books so much they sometimes try to sneak their own book instead of the required picture book when we meet with our kindergarten reading buddies! Yeah, one of my kids wanted to read Wonderstruck or Amulet or Holes something. To a five-year-old. I redirected the two of them to a amazing picture book that both of them would adore.

So this shift in the atmosphere of my classroom has had, I'm thinking, some pretty profound effects on my students. I'm sure this will affect the results of our state test scores. During our state testing last week, one of my students read Breadcrumbs and A Crooked Kind of Perfect in two days. After she was done with her tests. Maybe she just filled in circles so she could get back to the important stuff.

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